Stefanie Schaeffer trumps James Sun, wins 'The Apprentice: LA'
By Christopher Rocchio, 04/23/2007
Stefanie Schaeffer was hired by Donald Trump during last night's finale of NBC's The Apprentice: Los Angeles which featured a live boardroom broadcast from the Hollywood Bowl. The 32-year-old Los Angeles attorney was chosen out of 18 professionals who competed in a 14-week job interview during The Apprentice's sixth season, which was also the first to have four finalists instead of two.
"Stefani you've gone under the radar, but you've gotten along with everybody. You're obviously brilliant based on your academic background, your marks, everything you've done, and I want to really commend you," said Trump before revealing she was the winner. "You've done a fantastic job."
While Trump acknowledged he was "a little bit concerned" Stefanie went under the radar for most of the competition, he still decided to hire her during The Apprentice's finale and fire the show's three other remaining finalists: Frank Lombardi, a 27-year-old contracting company founder from Bronx, NY; James Sun, a 29-year-old Internet entrepreneur from Seattle, WA; and Nicole D'Ambrosio, a 25-year-old commercial real estate corporation owner and broker from Chicago, IL.
"Mr. Trump, I think what you've seen from me is someone who's had the respect of every single one of their team members from Day 1 until today," Stefanie said when answering how she would explain flying under the radar. "I never took credit for other people's ideas. I contributed my own ideas and made sure my team looked good all the time. If someone was falling below the appropriate standard, I made them look good. I filled in the spaces. I made us work as a team. That's what a leader does."
During the broadcast of The Apprentice: Los Angeles'penultimate episode last Sunday, Stefanie and James were paired together and competed against Frank and Nicole in the season's final task, requiring them to write, direct and produce a 60-second commercial for an air-freshener company. Trump told Frank and Nicole their commercial "wasn't good" and also reminded Frank how he was almost fired during the competition's first week. While he loved Frank's "drive," he added there are "certain liabilities" and fired him.
Donald Trump and The Apprentice: Los Angeles winner Stefanie Schaeffer (Photo credit NBC/Chris Haston)
Nicole then met the same fate. During the competition, she developed a relationship with fellow applicant Tim Urban, a 24-year-old tutoring company owner from Los Angeles, CA. Trump told Nicole during the finale that while he is a "believer in romance," he's not a "believer in inter-office romance."
"You love Tim, you like Tim... I think that's wonderful. But you know what? I want you to love me more. It's important because I have to be the boss," explained Trump before firing Nicole.
With the competition down to James and Stefanie, The Donald turned to his two children -- Ivanka and Donald Jr. -- who flanked him throughout the finale and much of The Apprentice's sixth season. Ivanka said she was concerned Stefanie wouldn't be able to work independently of James since the two relied so heavily on each other.
"I function on a daily basis both from a business perspective and a legal perspective. My line of business requires me to be a leader on a daily basis. I lead hundreds of people through complex litigation where millions of dollars are at risk, defending people just like your father," answered Stefanie. "I was the driving force of our team from Day 1. I was not only a creative force, I was the glue that held our team together."
Donald Jr. criticized James for not being able "to see the big picture," especially during the final task, when Donald Jr. thought James "got lucky" when he became "so focused on one aspect of the video" that he "almost forgot about everything else." While James tried to explain he's the "visionary and strategist" of his Internet company, it apparently wasn't enough as he was still fired.
Stefanie was also a popular choice among some of the previously fired women applicants from The Apprentice's sixth season. Heidi Androl, a 26-year-old national/international sales manager from Santa Monica, CA, told Trump she thought Stefani should win. "I love strong women... and Stefani is the epitome of strong women," she said. Kristine Lefebvre, a 37-year-old attorney from Los Angeles, CA, agreed.
"I think it's the year of the woman," she said. "You don't have to scream the loudest to be the strongest, and I think watching Stefani from afar, she really led in a silent way -- if we want to say that -- but I think she kept the frat boys under control."
For winning The Apprentice: Los Angeles, Stefanie will receive a $250,000 salary for being employed by The Donald as she will oversee the construction of Trump at Cap Cana, a luxurious resort complex in the Dominican Republic that includes a beach club, condominium hotel, private villas, a golf course and 68 private estates.
"I believe I bring not only a legal and business background to it, but also coming at it from the point of view of being in construction, having been counsel for developers in construction, I understand it from the ground up," explained Stefanie.